Court declines to hear treason case
By Ivy Benson
An Accra District Magistrate Court, yesterday declined jurisdiction over the case in which firebrand New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin-North, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, is being held on charges of treason and attempted genocide after he used intemperate language on a radio programme.
The refusal to hear the case brought before the court, according to the Magistrate, Patricia Quansah, followed a circular from the Judicial Secretary dated June 17, 2008, to all judges that first degree felony cases should be transferred to the Chief Justice, for her to direct appropriate judges to adjudicate the case.
Mr. Kennedy Agyapong, who is being held on three counts of treason, treason felony and attempted genocide, had to spend one more night in the cells of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) after his team of six prominent lawyers failed to secure him bail.
The Legislator is the first to be tried under the fourth Republic for treason, which is punishable by death when found guilty.
Hundreds of sympathizers, including NPP foot-soldiers and front-liners of the party, thronged the District Court in the face of tight security as gun-wielding policemen formed a barricade at the entrance of the court yard to prevent the teeming NPP supporters from causing mayhem within the court premises.
Despite being denied entry, the supporters continued in their deafening chanting of solidarity songs outside the court yard, which noise sometimes disturbed the court room, causing some inconveniences to the judge, lawyers and court audience.
The state, led by Mr. Anthony Rexford Wiredu, Principal State Attorney, had brought the accused person to court for a lawful remand in order to satisfied the mandatory 48 hours limit provided by the 1992 Constitution for accused person to be sent to court for remand, after Mr. Agyapong was arrested on Monday, April 16, 2012.
The state had brought the MP to the District court for a lawful remand and sought two weeks to enable them investigate the issue for a bill of indictment to be prepared for full trial before the High Court.
Mr. Wiredu, therefore, described the assertion of the defense as premature, such that the case should have been sent to the High court, which has jurisdiction over treason cases.
In response, the lead counsel for the accused person, Mr. Atta Akyea told the court that the case brought before it does not amount to treason, for his client to be incarcerated as he expressed surprise at prosecution, seeking more time to investigate the issue, when the state have the alleged treasonable pronouncement of Mr. Agyapong on tape.
According to Mr. Atta Akyea, his client has never leveled war against the state, as it is being stated in the Constitution, adding that a search on his client did not reveal anything incriminating.
He further drew the attention of the health risk of his client to the court, noting that the accused person, who is diabetic, had had his Blood Pressure rise up and had to be attended to by a medical doctor during his incarceration in BNI cells.
Former Attorney General under the NPP administration, Mr. Ayikwei Otoo, who is also part of the team of lawyers for the embattled NPP Firebrand, Kennedy Agyapong, noted that the state had not preferred the right charges against his client.
According to him, the charges brought against the accused person are alien to the Criminal Offenses Act, adding that Sec 118 of Act 29 of the Criminal Offenses Act, under which the accused person was being brought talks about “High Treason and not Treason simplicita”.
He further reminded the court that it has no jurisdiction over the case, since by law, treason cases are tried by three High Court judges, whose decision would be final.
The remorseful Assin-North MP attempted to make a statement in court, but was prevented, after he apologized to the court for the untoward reaction of the teeming crowd outside the court premises.
After hearing of the case, the crowd went into frenzy, with the accused person, who was in the dock, raised a hand fist and waved at the crowd.
Meanwhile, defense lawyers have filed an application for ‘Hebeas Corpus’ at the High court to seek bail for the embattled MP, whose incarceration has exceeded the mandatory 48 hours provided by the Constitution, beyond which his detention would be unlawful.
Short URL: http://thechronicle.com.gh/?p=43855